What is the Difference Between Theft, Robbery and Burglary in California?

Property crimes are serious business in California. Find out why you need a San Diego defense attorney to help you through your case.

The crimes of burglary, theft and robbery are often used interchangeably, but they are different under the California law. If you have been charged with one of these property crimes, you will want to understand the California laws that pertain to each and the penalties that go along with them. 

A criminal defense attorney can advise you based on your specific circumstances and provide you with a strong defense to get you the best possible results. Attorney Joni Eisenstein provides stellar representation for San Diego residents who have been charged with a property crime. She will work with you to understand the specific facts of your case and help you prepare to fight your charges. 

Schedule your free consultation today. Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Joni Eisenstein.

Definitions and Penalties for Theft, Robbery and Burglary

Theft in California 

Although theft and robbery are similar, there is one primary difference. Theft does not have to involve interpersonal interaction. This means that a theft can occur when one person takes property that does not belong to them without any interaction with the owner of the property. The California law identifies two types of theft, petty theft and grand theft, depending on the value of the items stolen. In California, petty theft is one in which the value of the property is less than $950. Grand theft is generally one in which the value is more than $950. 

Penalties for petty theft can include misdemeanor charges such as probation, up to one year in county jail and fines of $1000. The more serious charge of grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a felony, the defendant can face up to three years in county jail with fines of up to $10,000. 

Robbery in California 

Robbery is different from theft because it involves contact between the perpetrator and the victim using some type of force. Force does not necessarily mean the use of a weapon. It can also involve the use of intimidation or fear. For example, a purse-snatching is considered a robbery, even if physical force is not used against the victim. California robberies are felonies that can be classified as first or second degree. 

A robbery is considered first degree if it is perpetrated against an “operator or passenger of any bus, taxicab, cable car, streetcar, trackless trolley, or other vehicle… used for the transportation of persons for hire; every robbery which is perpetrated in an inhabited dwelling house; every robbery of any person while using an automated teller machine or immediately after the person has used an automated teller machine and is in the vicinity of the automated teller machine is robbery of the first degree.” Any other kind of robbery is considered second degree. 

Robberies are considered felonies under California law. First degree robbery convictions can come with a state prison sentence between three and nine years. Second degree convictions may result in a state prison sentence of two to five years. 

Burglary in California 

In the state of California, a burglary is a crime in which the perpetrator enters a building, property or other structure with the intent to commit a theft or other crime. Under the law, property does not need to be taken in order for the crime to qualify as a burglary. For example, if a perpetrator enters a warehouse to steal merchandise, they could be charged with burglary even if no merchandise was actually taken. Like robberies, burglaries are classified as either first or second degree. Burglaries that occur in an “inhabited dwelling” such as a home, apartment or any other structure that could be inhabited are considered first degree. All other burglaries are classified as second degree. 

Convictions for burglaries in California also come with imprisonment. First degree offenses may carry a jail sentence of two, four or six years; second degree offences carry a sentence of up to one year in state prison. 

Theft, Robbery and Burglary Defense Attorney San Diego 

No matter what charges you are facing, the penalties can have a serious negative impact on your future personal and professional prospects. If you are facing criminal charges for the crimes of theft, robbery or burglary in San Diego, you must speak to an experienced defense attorney right away. Criminal defense attorney Joni Eisenstein is ready to help you understand your legal rights and prepare the best defense possible to get you the positive outcome you want. 

Contact the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein today for your free consultation at 760-721-3161. 

If you are on the fence about hiring a defense attorney, stop thinking about it, and do it now

Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.